Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Fond Farewell

If “Cooley High” and Boyz II Men have taught us anything, it’s that it’s so hard to say goodbye. On the other hand, though, alcohol has taught us that if you don’t remember it, it didn’t happen. So if a dear friend is moving on in life, but she throws herself a going away party so sadistically drenched in alcohol that you wake up at 5 am the following morning without the slightest clue how you got in someone’s living room, then you never said goodbye and she hasn’t left, right?

Steph—oh she of the wondrously foul mouth and generous pour, packed neatly within a demure “girly-girl” exterior—recently came to a realization: Like others before her who are high on talent, personality, and ambition, she has finally accepted that Pittsburgh is no place to waste her life away. And so, eager for opportunity and a better life, she has decided to move to New York City. [Note: If anything in the prior two sentences came across as sarcasm, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth; the tone is meant to be more of a seething jealousy.] Ever the enabler, last Friday she christened her departure by hosting a party that also broke the proverbial champagne bottle over the bow of my belligerent inebriation.

I started the night by meeting Dupa on Mt. Washington. Each of us parked our car near Jay Swag’s house, with the hopes of falling down either there or somewhere near there when all was said and done. Dupa arrived a good 20 minutes later than me, having had a minor fender-bender while in transit. Some clown with a less-than-agile right foot had not hit his brakes early enough, and as a result slid into the back of Dupa’s car as my friend sat idling at a red light. The two drivers pulled off to the side of the road to inspect their respective bumpers; luckily no real damage had been done.

Dupa: “He said, ‘My bad man, I’m kind of in a hurry.’”
Me: “Did you exchange insurance?”
Dupa: *completely serious* “No, I told him, ‘Go fuck yourself,’ and got back in my car.”

We made our way to Station Square via a rectangular blast furnace on rails that the Port Authority of Allegheny County has the nerve to call the Monongahela Incline. Air conditioning and the Incline have yet to meet, and on Friday it was 92°F with humidity somewhere in the mid-90th percentile—at 7:30 pm. And that was the outside air temperature; inside the small, enclosed rail cars, you could double each of those numbers. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the Station Square bars pay the Incline operators to pump heat into the funiculars just to ensure that customers go searching for cold beverages when they get to the bottom.

Round 1 of Steph’s party kicked off at Bar Louie Station Square with dinner and drinks in the VIP area, thanks to a friend of mine who hooked us up [astute readers will note that this is the very same VIP area that hosted my 30th birthday celebration last year; Dupa almost looked out of place without a bachelorette party participant perched on his shoulder]. I, of course, made use of the $34 all-you-can-drink-top-shelf special that my friends and I have looked back upon fondly since last year. Chelsea, a wonderful princess of a waitress, made it her duty to have a new Red Bull and Ketel One ready for me as I finished each previous one. And the party’s attendance count grew as quickly as my drink count did. Bill, Shannon, The Entertainer, and even Hurley joined the throng of people bidding adieu to Steph’s life as a Pittsburgher. And my friend “Biff” arrived after pulling together an impromptu—yet well-executed—prank.

It was simplistic in nature and origin: Early in the night, Dupa sent a text to Biff to ask if he was on his way. Biff, feeling saucy, decided to respond with “Who is this?” Dupa showed us the text, and then responded with, “The guy you met in the bathroom at Elixir last week.” While he did that, I quickly shot off a text of my own to Biff: “[Dupa]’s almost buying it. Keep going.” And so began our dance (forgive my paraphrasing, but neither Dupa nor Biff gave me a transcript, and I was a good four or five Red Bull and Vodkas in by this point).

Biff to Dupa: “This is [Biff]’s mother. He has a new phone with a new number, and he gave me his old one.”
[Dupa begins to bite, but is still skeptical. He asks around the party if anyone knows of Biff changing his cell number. All along the way I’m behind him mouthing the words “SAY YES!” to everyone. At Bill’s suggestion, he sends…]
Dupa to Biff: “Prove it—show me your breasts.”
Biff to Dupa: “That’s highly inappropriate. If you want to talk to [Biff], his new number is 814-xxx-xxxx.”
[Dupa is stammering. Steph, Bill, and the rest of us are laughing hysterically. Dupa recognizes the “814” as a Johnstown area code, and suspects it to be the phone number of Biff’s buddy, Pete.]
Me to Biff: “You almost had him, but he figured it out when you used an ‘814’ instead of a ‘412’.”
Dupa to Biff: “That’s a Johnstown area code, so I know that’s not his number.”
Biff to Dupa: “That’s his work number. His personal cell phone is 412-xxx-xxxx.”
Biff to Me: “Don’t worry, I fixed it.”
[Dupa’s really worried now, as the added depth to the story—and the added alcohol he had consumed as time went on—was now convincing him that not only had he just told his friend’s mother that her son had picked him up in a public restroom, he had also asked her to show him her boobs.]
Dupa to Me: “Fuck! *thinks* I should text [Baby Joey] and ask him if [Biff] changed his number.”
Me to Dupa: “Probably worth a shot.”
Me to Biff: “He’s going to text [Baby Joey]!”
Biff to Me: “Don’t worry, I took care of it.”
Dupa to Joey: “Did [Biff] change his cell number?”
Joey to Dupa: “Yeah, the other day.”
[Dupa crumples into a ball, fully expecting an ass kicking in his near future.]

When Biff finally walked into Bar Louie chuckling, Dupa was more relieved than angry. I think it’s safe to say that finding out your friends have been messing with your head is a far better alternative to finding out that you’ve brazenly asked your friend’s mom to sext you.

The party moved to Buckhead at about 10. We had not planned on going there, but given its location (across the street) and the temperature (Bar Louie’s air conditioning was turned off, inexplicably), it just made good sense. Despite the lack of forewarning that Buckhead’s staff was given, Steph was able to negotiate free admission for everyone in her party (good luck pulling that one off in New York).

Things rapidly got hazy, for all of us. Dupa was “iced” by Entertainer, while Shannon and I openly wondered why we even associate with them. Steph pinballed between the four or five clusters of partygoers that had formed around the club’s main bar—and did shots at each stop. Biff held court in one of the huddles, with several of the party’s beautiful women around him; this led him to say to Dupa, “You see this? You see all of these girls? I look like the man right now, right? Nah. None of them want me. I’m deep in the ‘friend zone’.” And Hurley and I, each armed with an open tab of our own, caused me to tweet, “Hurley and I might have the most violent friendship in history. We literally will spend any amount to kill each other with shots.”

Legitimately twisted, he and I followed Steph’s bar crawl to its third location, Whim; Dupa, Entertainer, and Shannon, however, all set off for Jack’s Bar in South Side. This was my first time being inside Whim since its previous life as my beloved Margarita Mama's. It has a very Studio 54-ish feel to it; that’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s not a deal-breakingly bad thing, either. I’d only recommend it for those times when one finds himself in precisely the same circumstances in which Hurley and I found ourselves that night: part of a group that featured a high percentage of females, in high spirits, and floating towards a blackout, with no real agenda for the rest of the night.

After a beer or two—and possibly more shots (my ability to memorize was seriously hindered by that point, but I certainly wouldn’t rule out our sadistic game of “Last Man Standing” following us to Whim)—my boy and I finally bid adieu to Steph and the remaining partiers, deciding to cab our way over to Jack’s. When we found our three fellow refugees from the party at the back bar, they were engaged in the same activity as before: championship boozing. Some of our friends who hadn’t been a part of Steph’s celebration had also joined up at Jack’s, and they were no less enthusiastic than the rest of us to order more rounds of shots and drinks. I can—and more or less have to—sum up the rest of my bar night with the following two simultaneous conversations that took place the next morning.

Me to Dupa (in person): “Where did you lose me last night?”
Me to Hurley (text message): “Where did I lose you last night?”
Dupa to Me: “I think when you left Jack’s to go to Rumshakers.”
Me to Dupa: “We were at Jack’s?”
Hurley to Me: “Too many shots. I don’t know. Maybe Jack’s?”
Me to Hurley: “No, you were with me at Rumshakers.”
Hurley to Me: “We were at Rumshakers?”

I woke up alone in a living room, sitting upright on a couch. I wasn’t wearing my shirt or my shoes. The TV was on, and with a random infomercial playing on the screen. I looked around some more. I was in Jay Swag and Mitch Canada’s living room. But it had been weeks since I’d seen either of them. At least I thought it had. Had I met up with Swag somewhere last night? How else would I have gotten into their living room? Did I break in? I began looking around the room for my shirt and shoes. Nothing. I carefully made my way up the stairs to the guest room. There were my shoes sitting neatly in the corner, with my wallet and watch stashed in them. And draped over a chair was my shirt. I laid down on the bed, content to sleep for another few hours, when one last thought made me jump up. Opening my phone and using the light from the screen, I checked inside my wallet. Debit card? Check. Credit card? Check. License? Check. I exhaled and fell backwards onto the mattress.

As I drifted off, I thought to myself, “Did I see Steph last night?”


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